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Heart failure drug could 'cut deaths by a fifth'

“A new drug believed to cause a 20 per cent reduction in heart failure deaths could present a 'major advance' in treatment,” The Independent reports. The drug, LCZ696, helps improve blood flow in heart failure patients. Heart failure is a syndrome caused by the heart not working properly, which can make people vulnerable to serious complications. A new study compared LCZ696 with an existin

Students 'showing signs of phone addiction'

“Students spend up to 10 hours a day on their mobile phones,” the Mail Online reports. The results of a US study suggest that some young people have developed an addiction to their phone. Mobile or “cell” phone addiction is the habitual drive or compulsion to continue to use a mobile phone, despite its negative impact on one’s wellbeing. The authors of a new study suggest that this can occ

Study finds plain cigarette pack fears 'unfounded'

"Cigarette plain packaging fear campaign unfounded," reports The Guardian.After Australia introduced plain packaging laws in 2012, opponents of the legislation argued it would lead to a number of unintended consequences, including:*the market would become flooded by cheap Asian brands *smokers would be more likely to buy illegal unbranded tobacco (including raw unbranded loose tobacco k

Claims magnetic brain stimulation helps memory

“Magnetic brain stimulation treatment shown to boost memory,” The Guardian reports. A new study found that magnetic pulses improved recall skills in healthy individuals. It is hoped that the findings of this study could lead to therapies for people with memory deficits such as dementia.Researchers investigated the effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) every day for five days on c

Tomato-rich diet 'reduces prostate cancer risk'

“Tomatoes ‘cut risk of prostate cancer by 20%’,” the Daily Mail reports, citing a study that found men who ate 10 or more portions a week had a reduced risk of the disease. The study in question gathered a year’s dietary information from 1,806 men who were found to have prostate cancer and 12,005 who were clear after random prostate checks. The researchers compared the diets and adjusted the

Depression therapy aids other cancer symptoms

"Depression therapy could help cancer patients fight illness," reports The Daily Telegraph. The headline follows a study of intensive treatment of clinical depression given to people who had both depression and cancer – delivered as part of their cancer care. It found that not only did people’s mood improve, but cancer-related symptoms such as pain and fatigue were also reduced compared to

Does weight loss surgery affect dementia risk?

"Weight loss surgery 'reduces chance of Alzheimer's disease'," reports The Daily Telegraph. This misleading headline reports on a small Brazilian study of severely obese women before and after weight loss surgery. None of the women had any signs or symptoms of Alzheimer's.Seventeen women with an average body mass index (BMI) of 50kg/m² had neuropsychological tests, blood tests and a brain sca

Antidepressant use in pregnancy linked to ADHD

“Pregnant women who take anti-depressants 'could raise their child's risk of ADHD',” reports the Mail Online, saying that this could explain “the rise in children with short attention spans”.The study in question compared children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) with children without these conditions. It found that children with ADHD,

Common bacteria could help prevent food allergies

"Bacteria which naturally live inside our digestive system can help prevent allergies and may become a source of treatment," BBC News reports after new research found evidence that Clostridia bacteria helps prevent peanut allergies in mice. The study in question showed that mice lacking normal gut bacteria showed increased allergic responses when they were given peanut extracts. The resear

Breakfast 'not the most important meal of the day'

"Breakfast might not be the most important meal of the day after all,” the Mail Online reports.The concept that breakfast is the most important meal of the day is up there in the pantheon of received wisdom with “never swim after eating” or “getting wet will give you a cold”. But is there any hard evidence to back the claim?A new study in 38 lean people found that six weeks of regularly ea

Autistic brain 'overloaded with connections'

"Scientists discover people with autism have too many brain 'connections'," the Mail Online reports. US research suggests that people with an autistic spectrum disorder have an excessive amount of neural connections inside their brain.The headline is based on the results of a study that found that at post-mortem, brains of people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have more nerve cell struct

Dual vaccine approach could help eradicate polio

Double vaccines "could hasten the end of polio", BBC News reports. Researchers in India found that using a combination of the oral and injected vaccines provided enhanced protection against the disease.Polio is a viral infection that can cause paralysis and death. Thanks to initiatives such as the NHS Childhood Vaccination Schedule, it is now largely a disease of the past, found in only three

Botox may be useful in treating stomach cancers

"Botox may have cancer fighting role," BBC News reports after research involving mice found using Botox to block nerve signals to the stomach may help slow the growth of stomach cancers. Botox, short for botulinum toxin, is a powerful neurotoxin that can block nerve signals.The researchers studied genetically modified mice designed to develop stomach cancer as they grew older. They found t

'Fat and 30' link to dementia is inconclusive

“People as young as 30 who are obese may be at greater risk [of dementia],” The Independent reports. This UK study examined a set 14-year period (1998 to 2011) and looked at whether NHS hospital records documenting obesity in adults above the age of 30 were associated with subsequent hospital or mortality records documenting dementia in the remaining years of the study.Overall there was ac

Is breastfeeding inability causing depression?

Mothers who plan, but are unable, to breastfeed their babies are more likely to suffer from postnatal depression, report BBC News and The Independent.A study of 14,000 women in England found that those who planned to breastfeed but had not managed to were two-and-a-half times more likely to develop postnatal depression, compared to women who had no intention of breastfeeding. Around 1 in 1

Common antibiotic linked to 'tiny' rise in heart deaths

An antibiotic given to millions of people in the UK to treat chest infections has been linked to an increased risk of heart death, report The Daily Telegraph and The Independent.A Danish study of three antibiotics found the risk of death from any heart condition while taking the antibiotic clarithromycin is slightly higher than with penicillin V. Clarithromycin is used for respiratory infe

Are good neighbours really life-savers?

“Having good neighbours can help cut heart attack risk,” reports The Independent.The paper reports on a nationally representative US study of over 5,000 adults over the age of 50. People were asked about how they rated their neighbourhood social cohesion, then followed up for four years to see if they had a heart attack.Social cohesion refers to how “neighbourly” people feel, and relate

Targeted brain stimulation 'could aid stroke recovery'

"Stimulating the part of the brain which controls movement may improve recovery after a stroke," BBC News reports after researchers used lasers to stimulate a particular region of the brain with promising results in mice.The researchers were looking at a sub-type of stroke known as ischaemic stroke, where a blood clot blocks the supply of blood to part of the brain. With prompt treatment a

Bone marrow drug could treat alopecia

“Alopecia sufferers given new treatment hope with repurposed drug,” The Guardian reports. Alopecia is a type of autoimmune condition where the body’s own immune cells start to attack the hair follicles for an unknown reason, leading to hair loss. This new research actually involved two phases, one involving mice and one involving humans. The researchers identified the specific type of i

Depression 'common' in early Parkinson's

“Depression more common in early Parkinson’s,” BBC News reports, as a new study investigates the impact this degenerative condition can have on mental health.Parkinson’s disease is a neurological condition caused by a lack of the chemical dopamine in the brain. Alongside the characteristic movement symptoms such as involuntary shaking, mental health symptoms including depression, anxiety and

Caution urged over CT scan radiation doses

BBC News reports on a sharp rise in the number of CT scans being performed, exposing people to the potential health risks of radiation. However, as The Daily Telegraph says, it is not possible to calculate the cancer risk due to exposure to CT scans because there is a lack of data.These media stories follow the publication of a report by the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the

Macmillan finds cancer survival 'postcode lottery'

“Cancer postcode lottery ‘costs 6,000 lives a year’,” reports The Times.This, and similar headlines, are based on cancer survival figures compiled by Macmillan Cancer Support. The cancer charity’s report suggests that the proportion of people who die within a year of a cancer diagnosis is two-thirds higher in poor-performing areas, compared with high-performing areas.These are shocking sta

High-salt diet linked to 1.6 million heart deaths

"Salty diet 'causes 1.6 million deaths worldwide each year'," reports The Daily Telegraph. It goes on to quote a researcher saying this is "nearly 1 in 10 of all deaths from cardiovascular causes worldwide".This scary-sounding headline has a grain of truth in it, but the science it's based on doesn't prove that salt is causing these deaths. In fact, the news is based on a modelling study.T

Is UK obesity fuelling an increase in 10 cancers?

“Being overweight and obese puts people at greater risk of developing 10 of the most common cancers,” reports BBC News.The news is based on research using information in UK GP records for more than 5 million people, to see whether body mass index (BMI) was associated with 22 types of common cancers.The researchers found that increasing BMI was associated with increased risk of several type

Anti-obesity drugs 'may still work in middle-age'

“Drug to halt the dreaded spread of middle age,” reports The Daily Telegraph, with similar headlines on the Daily Express and Daily Mail websites. However, these claims are rather premature given the research they’re based on anti-obesity drugs that aren’t licensed for use in the UK. Also, the study in question involved mice, not people. Researchers compared middle-aged, obese mice to heal

Salt injections: not a cure for cancer

“Salt injection ‘kills cancer cells’ by causing them to self-destruct,” reports the Mail Online.Despite this headline, there is no new treatment for cancer using salt. The Mail Online reports on an early phase of experiments in laboratories that have worked out how increasing the amount of sodium chloride (salt) within a cell causes it to die.The researchers did not inject cancer with salt

Growth of newborn babies' brains tracked

"Scans chart how quickly babies' brains grow," reports BBC News Online.The headline follows a fascinating study that shows newborn babies' brains are about a third the size of an adult's at birth, and rapidly grow to just over half the size of an adult's within three months.The study involved 87 healthy babies who were given an MRI brain scan within the first week of life. Most then had a

Toothbrushing advice 'conflicting'

"Teeth-brushing advice unacceptably inconsistent," reports The Guardian, while the Mail Online states that a "simple, gentle scrub is best".These headlines relate to a small literature review that found diversity in the methods of manual toothbrushing recommended by dental associations, toothpaste and toothbrush companies, dental textbooks, and experts in 10 countries. The study authors concl

Exercise may cut breast cancer risk, study finds

"Exercise lowers risk of breast cancer after menopause," reports The Independent. This and similar headlines were sparked by a large study of postmenopausal teachers that found increased recreational activity was associated with a 10% decrease in the risk of breast cancer.The risk reduction eroded among some women who became less active over the years, suggesting keeping up a certain level of

'Safe' stem cell therapy may help stroke recovery

BBC Online today reports that "Stem cells show promise in stroke recovery". This accurate headline comes from a study showing how a new technique using a patient's own stem cells to aid recovery from severe ischaemic stoke is feasible and appears to be safe.But the study was tiny – just five people had the treatment. The study was also not designed to test whether the technique was effecti

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